In a letter to Senate leadership, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, expressed their disapproval of recent efforts to close the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon Township.
Casey and Toomey submitted a joint letter to Sen. Carl Levin, R-MI, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, and ranking member Sen. John McCain, R-AZ.
The correspondence was provided Monday during a meeting of the Military Affairs Coalition of Western Pennsylvania.
Read the letter in full, dated Nov. 26, below:
Dear Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain:
We are writing to express our opposition to any fiscal year 2013 Air Force restructuring proposal which would close the Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, home of the 911th Airlift Wing, located outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We understand that Air Force may propose revised PB13 provisions for inclusion in the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which would include the closure of the Pittsburgh installation. We think that this proposal does not reflect a thorough analysis of the merits of the 911th Airlift Wing, nor its associated cost savings. We strongly support the provision for a National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force as mandated by the FY13 NDAA reported out of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The 911th Airlift Wing is an efficient and cost effective unit. Its aircraft maintenance program has resulted in an increase of aircraft availability days while saving the Pentagon more than $42 million over the last five years. Additionally, the Pentagon pays only $20,000 to lease more than 100 acres for the Wing, which is a small sum when compared to the parallel costs at other bases and installations. Finally and perhaps most significantly, an incredibly skilled and experienced workforce is employed at the 911th installation, a significant and irreplaceable resource for the Air Force.
On Nov. 15, the Council of Governors sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh. Governor Terry Branstad and Governor Christine Gregoire, co-chairs of the council, expressed concern about the absence of answers to their questions and agreement on a process to address their concerns. We believe that the proposed independent national commission will serve to address the concerns held by us, the Council of Governors, and our constituents to ensure a thorough analysis of alternatives with regard to any Air Force base closure and realignment initiative.
We would like to thank you for your leadership on the NDAA and your willingness to engage with members outside the committee to address these serious concerns.
Robert Casey Jr., United States Senator
Pat Toomey, United States Senator